If the scene at the Honolulu Airport Saturday night was indeed the last 6-year-old Abriana Detty will see of Hawaii, it could hardly have been more appropriate.
Bearing homemade signs, pink balloons and lots of Kleenex, nearly 100 friends of the Detty family showed up at the Delta Airlines check-in area to wish Abriana, who has terminal cancer, a fond farewell before she left for Florida and a long-overdue visit to Disney World.
“We just wanted to give her the send off that a princess deserves,” said Venus Laney, who organized the gathering.
Abriana was first diagnosed with cancer three years ago, while the family was stationed in South Korea. She was immediately transported to Hawaii and, until Saturday night, had spent most of the last two and a half years at Tripler Army Medical Center.
After an exhaustive battle that included some 40 surgeries and an unsuccessful experimental treatment, Abriana’s parents met with physicians last week and made the decision to let their daughter live out her last days in as much comfort as possible. They were told that she had roughly a month to live.
Abriana wasn’t quite ready for her grand reception. Exhausted and in pain, she clung to her father, Army Spc. Stephen Detty, as beaming well-wishers surrounded them.
Abriana wanted to visit Disney World, but raising the funds to get there was a challenge. The Detty family was not eligible for help from the Make-A-Wish Foundation because the foundation had already granted Abriana her one wish — a dog — when Abriana was first diagnosed.
“At the time, doctors only expected her to live for six months,” Laney said. “They didn’t anticipate that this little fighter would last another two-and-a-half years.”
So Laney set up a website (http://www.gofundme.com/ogqio) to collect funds for the trip and to help with the other onerous expenses the family has incurred. As of Saturday, the drive was just $1,400 short of its goal of $10,000.